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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Roos: Verhagen’s U.S. Focus Led to N24 Replacement

BMW M Motorsport director Andreas Roos explains the decision to replace Neil Verhagen in Team RMG’s N24 driver crew…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

Neil Verhagen’s increased focus on racing in the U.S. led to the decision to remove him from BMW M Team RMG’s lineup for the Nürburgring 24, according to BMW M Motorsport director Andreas Roos.

The Munich marque announced in March that Charles Weerts will be making his N24 debut aboard the No. 72 BMW M4 GT3, taking Verhagen’s place alongside Max Hesse and Dan Harper.

It marks the first time since 2020 that Verhagen will not tackle the Eifel endurance classic alongside his former Junior Team cohorts.

The three drivers took part in every edition of the event together for the last four years, sharing an RMG-run M4 GT3 under the BMW Junior Team banner in both 2022 and 2023.

All three drivers graduated to become fully-fledged members of the BMW factory driver roster ahead of the 2023 season and have since competed in various championships across the globe.

Verhagen, notably, has increasingly focused on racing in his native U.S. after taking on a joint American-European schedule last year.

He stepped into Samantha Tan Racing’s lineup in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS midway through the 2023 season to replace John Edwards before partnering with Tan for a full-season effort this year.

Additionally, he also signed on as the third driver at Paul Miller Racing for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds.

Speaking to Sportscar365, Roos indicated that the 24-year-old’s involvement in the U.S. led BMW to reconsider its lineup for the N24.

“The decision at the end was taken that Neil is mainly focusing on the racing in the U.S.,” said Roos.

“And then we thought it’s a nice move to put Charles into the car. So he’s in the same age, let’s say, like the other two.

“So it’s for sure no longer a junior car because it’s our factory drivers. But it’s our young guns.”

BMW is looking to bring an end to a four-year winless streak at the N24 this year, having last triumphed with ROWE Racing in 2020.

Last year, Sheldon van der Linde, Maxime Martin, Dries Vanthoor and Marco Wittmann finished second behind Frikadelli Racing Team in the second year for the M4 GT3.

That marked a significant improvement over the car’s debut outing, where both ROWE cars and the Junior Team both failed to finish.

“We always go there to win,” Roos said.

“In the first year of the M4 GT3 in 2022, we were already on the pace to be able to fight for a good result. In the end, it didn’t pay off.

“Last year we tried to challenge the Ferrari, but at the end the Ferrari was too quick for us.

“So we didn’t manage [and] we ended up on the podium in P2. So this year we would like to be on the top step, but you know how difficult it is to win the Nürburgring 24.

“It’s a very tough race, especially with all the traffic and we always know that the weather could also be challenging there so you have to have luck. You have to get everything together.

“But to be honest with our driver line-up, all of them proved already to be able to win there or to be really competitive.

“I think we have a very strong driver line-up and with ROWE Racing and RMG, with our two BMW factory teams, I think we should be able to hopefully fight for a good result.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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